Program and Curriculum

The Medieval Institute curriculum combines programmatic interdisciplinary course work, training in the technical skills of medieval studies, and linguistic preparation. At the same time, students enjoy the freedom to do extensive work within a single discipline and/or outside the period of the Middle Ages. The Institute has traditional strengths in philosophy, theology, religious and intellectual history, the history of universities, and manuscript studies. Recently, the Institute has enlarged its focus to include vernacular languages and literatures (especially Old and Middle English), Latin literature, Dante studies, musicology, liturgy, medieval Islam, Byzantine studies, and art history. In all of these fields we sponsor classes, seminars, lectures, conferences and workshops, publish books, and in a variety of other ways support an active community of scholars at all levels—a community that is in turn well connected with other medievalists and medieval studies programs both nationally and internationally.

Curriculum Overview

The Medieval Institute offers a doctoral program only. We do not accept candidates for a terminal master’s degree, but we confer the Master of Medieval Studies (M.M.S.) on students who successfully complete requirements for that degree before progressing into doctoral candidacy. The programs of the Medieval Institute are rigorous and interdisciplinary, and they make high demands in terms of language skills.

Accordingly, the Master of Medieval Studies degree normally requires two years of full-time study and the Doctor of Philosophy in Medieval Studies (Ph.D.) requires a further year of study plus the completion of a dissertation. Students usually spend three to five years at the dissertation stage before receiving the Ph.D. Each degree requires a specified number of credit hours, language exams, oral and/or written exams, proficiency in paleography, and research projects. Students must be continuously enrolled on a full-time basis. Students are expected to be in residence until they have an accepted dissertation proposal.

Detailed information about the curriculum, as well as administrative policies and procedures, is contained in the Graduate Handbook of the Medieval Institute. The curriculum for the Medieval Institute graduate program was recently revised, and there are usually updates each year. Full details, including a year-by-year guide to courses and academic milestone requirements, is available in the 2016-17 MI Graduate Handbook (Current students who entered prior to 2009-10, should consult the 2008 MI Graduate Handbook.)

In addition to the courses offered during the fall and spring semesters, the Medieval Institute provides summer courses in areas essential to the study of medieval culture. These courses are conducted by leading scholars from Notre Dame and elsewhere and are open to students from any institution. They provide an ideal opportunity for graduate students to acquire language and technical skills necessary for scholarly research. The Graduate School provides tuition scholarships for Notre Dame graduate students to take up to three credit hours in summer session courses


We provide an individualized program and careful guidance to each of our students. During the first two years, students will choose their courses each semester in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. During their second year of study students will choose a faculty adviser, ordinarily the person who will direct their dissertation, and that professor will help to guide their further course of study.

Questions about our program? Please email the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Daniel Hobbins, at, or go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.